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BMW Z4: Buying guide and review (2003-2008)

BMW Z4: Buying guide and review (2003-2008) Classic and Performance Car
BMW Z4 3.0 BMW Z4 3.0 BMW Z4 3.0 BMW Z4 3.0 Coupe BMW Z4 3.0 Coupe
Launched in 2003, the BMW Z4 roadster was the long-awaited replacement for the extremely successful Z3 - BMW’s first foray into the mass-market two-seater sportscar segment. Controversial Chris Bangle-era styling, electromechanical power-steering and the adoption of run flat tyres met with some criticism at launch, but the well balanced handling and great range of engines ensured that the Z4 carried on its predecessors success story.

With its focus on handling and driving dynamics, the Z4 earned itself a reputation as a great drivers’ car, the M versions in particular are already becoming modern collectors cars. 
Which one to buy?
There are a large number of engine variations to choose from, however the basic running costs for the non-M six-cylinder models are quite similar, making the larger capacity variants – which provide a decent hike in power over the 2.2-litre cars – highly desirable. The 3.0-litre model in particular is a great compromise between the full-fat M variants and the lower models in the range, and was also the only non-M car that was made available in Coupe form. 

The Coupe, introduced in 2006, is a significantly rarer car than the soft-top. Thanks to the much more rigid body structure handling is even better, while there’s a slightly more usable luggage space in the back too. Ride quality on standard suspension is very firm, meaning that cars with sports suspension and big wheels can be surprisingly uncomfortable on anything other than smooth road surfaces. 

The base 2-litre four-cylinder cars are eager, and not much slower than the 2.2-litre models. They also use much less fuel and cost less to maintain, so if outright speed is not a priority then these models are a great compromise. 

At the other end of the scale, the M powered Z4 is a different proposition altogether. Using the 343bhp engine from the heavier E46 M3, and with a full M-spec suspension system, the Z4 M coupe and roadster models took the fight straight to Porsche and Mercedes. The award-winning engine is one of the all-time great naturally aspirated units, providing a raw edged driving experience that will leave you breathless. Running costs are relatively reasonable for a car of this type, although certain M specific components can be pricey - especially if sourced from BMW.

Gearbox options were five-speed manuals and automatics on the early cars, with the facelift introducing six-speed variants. The Sequential Manual Gearbox was made available on a limited number of the 3.0-litre cars and while fun when pressing on, they can be jerky in town driving.

There’s a huge choice whitch means that you can afford to be picky, and it’s absolutely worth driving a few different models. The driving experience between a base spec four-pot Z4 and a sporty three-litre model is surprisingly different.
Performance and specs
Engine 2996cc 24valve DOHC I6 
Power 261bhp @ 6600 rpm 
Torque 232lb ft @ 2750rpm
Top speed 155mph (limited)
0-62mph 5.7 seconds 
Fuel consumption 32.8mpg 
Gearbox Six-speed manual
Insurance group 44
Dimensions and weight
Wheelbase 2495mm
Length 4090mm
Width 1780mm
Height 1300mm
Weight 1385kg
Common problems

• Parts are readily available and many maintenance items can be sourced from specialists.

• Suspension systems are generally reliable, however the springs are prone to snapping especially at the rear. Front control arm bushes tend to wear out and can be noticed by loose-feeling steering and creaking noises. Strut braces on the rear can break at the weld seams and will require expensive repairs. 

• Electrical systems are reliable, however some owners have complained of erratic wipers requiring motor replacements, which can be costly. Test all the buttons and switches inside the vehicle in case anything is amiss. 

• The interior is well built and there are no specific issues however the seats do rub against the body when pushed right back and can cause irritating squeaks when driving. 

• Engines are long lasting and should be smooth and free revving, especially the six-cylinder models. Power steering pumps can fail on early cars and the cooling system needs to be serviced regularly. The water pump can fail if the correct coolant mixture is not adhered to. 

• On M cars, check that the 1200-mile run in service was done, as failure to do so has been known to result in excessive engine wear. Crankcase ventilation oil separators can clog up and cause damage to the engine, but replacement parts are not unduly pricey.

• On convertible cars check the roof mechanism for any signs of slow operation or creasing in the roof lining. There should be no water ingress so any leaks may indicate an issue with the alignment of the roof or the side window fitment.
Model History 

2003: BMW Z4 launched in 170bhp 2.2, 190bhp 2.5 and 228bhp 3.0 litre versions. Five-speed manual and automatic transmission choices available, with SMG gearbox option available on 2.5 and 3.0 litre cars
2005: 215bhp 2.5si and 261bhp 3.0si engines replace older units resulting in lower emissions and higher power outputs. Navigation and heated seats introduced as optional extras, and SMG gearbox now only available on 3.0-litre cars. 2.2i six-cylinder entry level option replaced with 150bhp 2.0l four-cylinder engine.
2006: Mid-life facelift with new colours, wheel choices and minor changes to lighting. Six-speed manual and automatic gearboxes now available. Z4 Coupe introduced with 3.0-litre 261bhp engine,as wells as M Coupe with 343bhp M division engine.
2008: Final E85/86 Z4 rolls off the line
Owners clubs, forums and websites
• www.bmwcarclubgb.uk
• z4-forum.com
Summary and prices

Prices start at £3000-£4000 for the earliest cars, and as long as they have solid service and maintenance histories they can carry on forever, so don’t be put off by higher mileages. £6000-£8000 will get you one of the later cars. M Coupes and M Roadsters range between £12,000-£25,000 with condition and mileage being the biggest influencing factors on these cars.
The first Z4 has proven to be a great second-hand buy with reasonable running costs and styling that has improved with age. There are a lot of cars out there with a spec level and price to suit most people. It’s also a great way of experiencing the last of the old school BMWs, built before the motoring industry’s move to turbocharging and flappy paddles, so buy one now and enjoy it while you still can.
Words: John Tallodi
BMW Z4 3.0 BMW Z4 3.0 BMW Z4 3.0 BMW Z4 3.0 Coupe BMW Z4 3.0 Coupe
Last updated: 4th Dec 2015
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BMW Z4 cars for sale

122 Search results
850 30490 GBP
  • BMW Z4

    £23,995 £23,995

    Variant name:Roadster M Sport ,Derivative:M Sport ,Variant: 2.0i sDrive28i M Sport BMW Z4 28i sDrive M Sport 2dr Auto

    • Year: 2015
    • Mileage: 10692 mi
    • Engine size: 2
    For sale
    Helston Garages Group-Westerly Bridgwater
    01278 550652 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • BMW Z4 Series 2005

    £4,250 £4,250

    Have owned the Z4 for just shy of 3 years and in that time only added around 3000 miles. Car is maintained by Leaders in Silverhill. Service history only available whilst owned but have historic MOT history Have recently replaced the roof motor (a well known fault) Good runner and genuine car and genuine reason for sale, simply not used enough Wear and tear you would consummate with age.   £4,250 ono No tyre kickers, time wasters or silly offers please  

    • Mileage: 75500 mi
    • Engine size: 1995
    For sale
  • BMW Z4

    £6,495 £6,495

    Spare Key, Service Inspection Included, Service Included, Service Book, Low Mileage, H.P.I clear, Full VOSA History, Finance Available, CAM Chain, AA Roadside Assistance, CD Player, Power Hood, Electric Windows, Electric Mirrors, Adjustable Steering Column, Multiple Airbags, Premium Cloth soft top, Air Conditioning, Full Leather, Anti-Theft System, Immobiliser, Remote Central Locking, Alloy wheels, Part service history Located at Farmoor this BMW Z4 Ragtop is finished in Ombudsman Black with a contrasting Hide interior.From the moment you turn the key you are inspired by the growl of the sweet 6 Cylinder Power Plant that bursts into life.On the road its a dream to drive and makes you grin like a Cheshire Cat,dont just dream call Mark on 01865 863777 or visit Farmoor Service Station, Oxford Rd,Oxford,OX2 9NN.With full dealer facilities and over 150 quality pre owned cars in group stock, SD Timmo is the only place to go!, Over 150 quality pre owned cars in group stock, please visitwww.sdtimmocarsales.co.uk

    • Mileage: 78826 mi
    • Engine size: 2497
    For sale
  • BMW Z4

    £11,999 £11,999

    Variant name:23i sDrive 2dr ,Variant: 23i sDrive 2dr 6 Speed Gearbox,ABS,Air Conditioning,Alloy Wheels,Anti Theft System,Automatic Headlights,CD Player,Climate Control,Electric Windows,Heated Seats,Multiple Airbags,Onboard Computer,Power Steering,Traction Control

    • Year: 2009
    • Mileage: 45000 mi
    • Engine size: 2.5
    For sale
  • BMW Z4

    £12,990 £12,990


    • Mileage: 55000 mi
    • Engine size: 2497
    For sale
  • BMW Z4

    £18,995 £18,995

    Air Conditioning, Bluetooth, Climate Control, Comms Pack, Dual Climate Zones, Full Leather, Xenon Headlamps, Alarm, Anti-Theft System, Immobiliser, Remote Central Locking, Colour Coded Interior, Front Centre Armrest, Head Restraints, Height Adjustable Seat, Sports Seats, Adjustable Steering Column, Multi-function Steering Wheel, Parking Sensors, Power Steering, Stability Control, Traction Control, Trip Computer, ABS, Brake Assist, Multiple Airbags, Auto Lighting, Colour Coded Body, Electric retractable hard top, Front Fog Lamps, Headlamp Jetwash, Rear Spoiler, Auto-dip Rearview, Automatic Electric Windows, Electric Handbrake, Electric Mirrors, Power Hood, Push Button Start, CD Player, MP3 Player, Radio, Steering Wheel Audio Controls, Stereo, Full service history A beautiful example of the Z4 Twin Turbo model with just two owners from new and a full service history. This exceptionally low mileage BMW is finished in a fantastic colour combination and looks absolutely stunning!!

    • Mileage: 9353 mi
    • Engine size: 1997
    For sale

    £11,995 £11,995

    2007 07 BMW Z4 3.0 Si SPORTS COUPE 6 SPEED MANUAL;;A genuine liow mileage individual spec example that is in fantastic condition inside and out ,Purchased by a female vicar in 2014 the car has been very well maintained with BMW main dealer servicing @ 10k ,16k , 37k , and 53k last done by Vines BMW in redhill @ 53004 miles 11.11.2016 ;;( Please see attached service book picture);;Comes with every service invoice from new and all past mots. ;;Carbon black met ;54323 miles F.S.H;Cashmere individual leather m tec sports seats;Cashmere carpets and door cards ;Manual 6 speed gearbox ;Aluminium dash and cappings ;Heated seats ;Multifunction sterring wheel;Factory rear privacy glass;Electric memory seats ;BMW business hi fi with Bluetooth ;Auto xenon headlights;BMW 18inch m tec alloy wheels ;Bridgestone potenza tyres ;;Sold with and 12 mths mot and 6 months comprehensive 5 star warranty ;;A genuine modern classic with an excellent service record;;hpi clear with full book pack/ tool kit both keys . ;;GBP 11,995 ( px and down trades on request) ;;Delivery available to your door nationwide.;Viewing 7 days a week by appointment only please;Similar cars always wanted for stock please go to web site for more details on selling your car

    • Mileage: 54000 mi
    • Engine size: 2.996
    For sale
  • BMW Z Series 2003

    £4,995 £4,995

    Just been fully serviced and has a new MOT. Brand new brakes and suspension. Great car especially for summer.

    • Mileage: 89500 mi
    • Engine size: 2494
    For sale
  • BMW Z Series 1999

    £1,500 £1,500

    BMW z3 1.9 1999  12 months mot history mots bills etc 136500k chrome side grills  leather seats stainless exhaust  wind deflector   

    • Mileage: 136500 mi
    • Engine size: 1900
    For sale
  • BMW Z4

    £17,990 £17,990

    Bluetooth, Heated Seats, Satellite Navigation, Xenon Headlamps, Parking Sensors, Full service history BMW Z4 Sdrive23i M Sport Highline Edition 2.5 Automatic registered September 2011 (61 reg) finished in Deep Sea Blue Metallic with Ivory Leather interior, Heated Seats, Satellite Navigation, Bluetooth Phone Prep, Aux-In, Xenon Headlights, 19 Inch Alloys, Front/Rear Parking Sensors, Service History 09/11/13 18015 miles, 01/09/15 25219 Miles, 10/05/16 26078 Miles, 02/05/17 27377 Miles. Finance available on request - subject to status and terms. Ask about our Company Directors packages. Fully Valeted; UK Wide Delivery Available; Part Exchange Welcome.

    • Mileage: 27600 mi
    • Engine size: 2497
    For sale
  • BMW Z4 2010 Z4 SDRIVE 2.5 23I ROADSTER Auto 49853 Petrol Grey

    £12,495 £12,495

    BMW Z4 2.5 23i sDrive 2dr ;;(Reduced Till 31st July GBP 12495);; 2010 (10 reg), Convertible ;;49,853 miles;Automatic;2497cc;Petrol;;;((Comprehensive Service History,Just serviced including Two New Tyres And rear Brake Pads!)), Upgrades - Rain Sensor with Automatic Headlamp Activation, Parking Distance Control Front and Rear, Seat Heating, Cruise Control, Aux Input, Paddle Shift, Electric Mirrors, Auto Headlights, Wind Deflector, Standard Features - Air-Conditioning (Automatic), 17in Light Alloy Star-Spoke Style 290, Alarm, Alloy Wheels (17in), Electric Windows (Front/Rear), Computer (Driver Information System), In Car Entertainment (Radio/CD/MP3), Tyre Pressure Control, Electric door mirrors, Electronic Stability Programme, Exterior Lighting (Xenon Headlights), Power-Assisted Steering, Traction control, Remote central locking, Power steering, Leather seats, Headlamp Wash. 2 seats, Spacegrau grey metalic, ((GBP 99 Admin Fee Which Includes A National 6 Month Parts and Labour Warranty)), VIEWING BY APPOINTMENT ONLY, CLOSED SUNDAYS

    • Mileage: 49853 mi
    • Engine size: 2.497
    For sale
  • BMW Z4

    £4,695 £4,695

    Power Hood, Full Leather, Air Conditioning, Stability Control, Traction Control, Electric Windows, Electric Mirrors, Front Fog Lamps, Radio, CD Player, ABS, Remote Central Locking, Alarm, Immobiliser, Twin Air Bags, Side Air Bags, Height Adjustable Seat, Adjustable Steering Column, Head Restraints, Power Steering, Rear Wash/wipe, Trip Computer, 17'' Alloys, Service history BMW Z4 Roadster 2.5i Convertible, Service History, Two Local Owners and Genuine Mileage of 79,200 Only with 17'' Alloys, Electric Power Roof, Full Leather Interior, Air Con, Stability/Traction Control, Electric Windows/Mirrors and Radio/CD Player. Phwoar!

    • Mileage: 79200 mi
    • Engine size: 2494
    For sale
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